FSILG leaders approve of new social gathering policy

Boston houses now allowed to host large events

CORRECTION TO THIS ARTICLE: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the announcement was less than a day before the start of Rush. It was in fact more than a day before the kickoff. It also incorrectly stated that Risk Management Consultants were introduced by the new policy. In fact, their responsibilities have been modified to include new follow-up procedures. A previous version also failed to include a formula based on PartySafe trained members as a possible limit on FSILG capacity. AILG Chair Steve Baker '84 noted in an email that this formula is likely to be the limiting factor on the capacity.

Interfraternity Council president Haldun Anil ’15 emailed MIT fraternity members late Thursday to announce that fraternity presidents had approved a new FSILG social events policy to address the assembly limits imposed by the Boston Licensing Board in October 2013, which had prevented fraternities in the city from holding parties. The announcement came shortly over a day before the scheduled start of fraternity Rush, during which many houses host parties for freshmen.

The seven-page policy is the result of a new approach by the FSILG student leadership and MIT FSILG Office to allow houses in Boston to resume hosting large events, which was all but banned after fraternity assembly licenses were revoked in the wake of a four-story fall by a student at a party at the MIT fraternity Phi Sigma Kappa last September.

According to Anil, the City of Boston made it clear that it did not want to reinstate the licenses, the traditional justification for fraternities exceeding their residency limits during large events, because he said the city viewed assembly licenses as the sole domain of commercial operations.

The policy’s changes fall into three sections. The first redefines the maximum number of people who can be at an FSILG during various types of events. The second introduces a new registration system for events. The third enacts new procedures to enforce compliance with MIT and FSILG policies by updating responsibilities of Risk Management Consultants, members of third-party FSILGs sent to inspect registered events.

Each house’s occupancy was limited to its maximum residency since the revocation of the assembly licenses. Now, for social events with alcohol, the upper limit is the minimum of the house’s maximum occupancy as per state building code, the number of FSILG members plus three times the number of PartySafe-trained members present, or 249 people. Exceeding that limit now requires municipal registration of the event.

While the policy also applies to independent living groups and sororities, Anil said that the details of the policy primarily address concerns related to the types of social events most commonly held by fraternities.

Anil said that the student leaders and administrators working on the issue shifted away from license renewal in late May after multiple failed attempts to receive approval from Boston, which indicated its opposition to giving assembly licenses for non-commercial purposes. “The MIT community has decided to enforce the safety of social events ourselves rather than relying on numbers determined by the city,” he said, calling the new rules a “common sense approach.”

Fraternities were sent drafts of the policy about two weeks ago and told to prepare for Rush in both the case of its approval and the case in which large gatherings at Boston houses were not allowed. The approval came with all but one fraternity president voting in favor.

Anil was unsure of the specific legal details that allow the policy to overcome the limits that had been in place throughout the academic year and said that to his knowledge the City of Boston had not yet reviewed or commented on the policy.

1 Comment
Steve Baker, '84 (AILG Chair) over 9 years ago

This is an excellent and informative article; thank you. I do want to correct one minor factual error in it, however:

The maximum capacity of an FSILG for parties where alcoholic beverages are served ("wet" parties) will be the lesser of the following:

-the maximum capacity of the building as determined by state building code;

-the number of FSILG members plus three times the number of party-safe trained members in attendance;

-or 249.

For most FSILGs, the limiting number is likely to be the number of party-safe trained members in attendance.

Thank you for helping us inform the MIT community of everything that the FSILG student leadership, DSL, and AILG are doing to keep the community healthy, vibrant, and safe.

Steve Baker ('84 Theta Xi)

AILG Chair